History, ghost stories and folklore come together in Salem | News, Sports, Jobs


From left to right, Brian Whitehill, Jillian Pieren, Paige Whitehill, Mallory Hudson, Shannon Whitehill and David Whitehill gather on the stage of the Salem Waterworth Memorial Park Orashan Band Shell where they will perform a ghost story skit for the Eyes story for Olivia 2021 Walk on Sunday. This year’s event takes a new twist, with music, local folklore and ghost stories on stage starting at 7 p.m., preceded at 6 p.m. by walking tours through historic Hope Cemetery, where the visitors can learn about some notable former residents of Salem. Donations will be accepted. Register online through the Eyes for Olivia Facebook page or simply show up on the day of the event. (Photo courtesy of Kim Hoffman)

SALEM – Local residents can learn a bit of Salem history, hear ghost stories and local folklore, and help a good cause during the Eyes for Olivia 2021 historic walk on Sunday at Waterworth Memorial Park.

There is a new twist for the event this year. Visitors can pick up a booklet and stroll through historic Hope Cemetery on a self-guided tour to learn about former residents of Salem starting at 6 p.m. Then they can bring a lawn chair to the Orashan Band Shell to hear music, local folklore, and ghost stories from 7 p.m.

Organizer Kim Hoffman, of Eyes for Olivia, said this allows attendees to disperse since the world is still in a pandemic period, and they can also visit the cemetery stops at their own pace.

All proceeds go to the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation. The Hoffman family organized Eyes for Olivia over 10 years ago as a fundraising channel for CRBF, which funds research for a treatment and cure for CRB1-related retinal disease. Kim and her husband Mike joined the group of parents of children diagnosed with the disease after their daughter Olivia was diagnosed at age 4. She is now 16 and studying at Salem High School.

“All the work that the foundation does comes from these small events organized by our families”, Kim said.

She is now the treasurer of the CRBF and said their family alone has raised well over $ 100,000 through various events such as historic walks, the quarterly auction and other fundraisers. The CRBF funds national history studies to track the duration of illness that can eventually cause blindness and funds research projects, such as Columbia University’s on gene editing. People can find out more at www.crb1.org.

As for Olivia, Kim said she was fine. Her vision loss has not progressed, but she has some visual impairment and is starting to lose some color recognition.

For the event, donations will be accepted. People can register through the Eyes for Olivia Facebook page or they can just show up on the day of the event. There will be apple cider available, but people can bring their own snacks if they wish for group shell storytelling.

Jeff Noble will kick off with music, then local folk stories will kick in and include images projected onto a screen. Rick Haldi, who has played characters on previous historical walks, wrote the stories. He will be one of the presenters, along with Kathy Leguard and Denise Sculli and Terry Shears. A ghost story skit will be presented last by the Whitehill family, Brian, Shannon, Paige and David, as well as Jillian Pieren and Mallory Hudson.

Comfortable shoes are suggested for the historic walk which will include 15 stops detailed in the guidebook and marked with signs. Some of the stops will include abolitionists, soldiers, citizens who participated in the Underground Railroad, and other interesting former residents of Salem. Members of the Salem Historical Society helped prepare the walk book.

Parking will be available on Sunset Boulevard or Superior Avenue. The event will take place rain or shine.

“Thank you to all of our sponsors and to the City Parks Manager, Shane Franks”, Kim said.

Gold sponsors include Radix Management, Bob and Linda Sebo, the Canfield Lions Club and SSB CPAs. The Silver sponsors are Beard Pension Services, Mackall Optometry, Mullen Insurance Solutions and BOC Water Hydraulics. Sponsors for the walk include Salem AMVETS Post 45, Rich and Carol Yeager, BB Rooners, Essential Vision Care and Yerkey & Madjarac DDS Inc.

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